Aztec Culture History

Aztec history
January 31, 2021 – 06:04 pm
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The Aztec Physical Appearance

Here is a sixteenth-century Spanish description:

The people of this land are well made, rather tall than short. They are swarthy as leopards (see below), of good manners and gestures, for the greater part very skillful, robust, and tireless, and at the same time the most moderate men known. They are very warlike and face death with the greatest resolution.

Both leopards and jaguars are not usually dark (swarthy), the writer must therefore be referring to those that are melanistic (completely black or very dark), they are known as black panthers.

Aztec Character

Alonso de Zorita wrote of the Mexicans: these people are by nature very long-suffering, and nothing will excite or anger them. They are very obedient and teachable. The more noble they are, the more humility they display. This description suggests a meek and spineless people, very different from the Aztecs of popular imagination who are forever shedding blood on either the altar or the battlefield. The contradiction, however, is more apparent than real.

On the one hand the Mexicans showed what Parry has called 'a very high degree of social docility-the willing submergence of the individual in the personality of the tribe', but against this must be set a streak of personal individualism with a tendency towards violence and extremism. In a military state like Tennochtitlan physical bravery was taken for granted, and death in battle was something to look forward to. As a Mexican poet put it: There is nothing like death in war, nothing like the flowery death so precious to Him who gives life: far off I see it: my heart yearns for it!

The Aztec were a Nahuatl-speaking people who in the 15th and early 16th centuries ruled a large empire in what is now central and southern Mexico. The Aztec are so called from Aztlán (“White Land”), an allusion to their place of origin, probably in northern Mexico. They were also called the Tenochca, from an eponymous ancestor, Tenoch, and the Mexica, probably from Metzliapán (Moon Lake), the mystical name for Lake Texcoco. From “Tenochca” was derived the name of their great city, Tenochtitlán; and from “Mexica” came the name for the city that superseded the Aztec capital and the surrounding valley. This name was applied later to the whole Mexican nation. The Aztec referred to themselves as Culhua-Mexica, to link themselves with Colhuacán, the sacred city of the Toltec, and in their belief, the center of the most civilized people of the Valley of Mexico.

The origin of the Aztec people is uncertain, but elements of their own tradition suggest that they were a tribe of hunters and gatherers on the northern Mexican plateau before their appearance in Mesoamerica in perhaps the 12th century. Aztlán, however, may be legendary. It is possible that their migration southward was part of a general movement of peoples that followed, or perhaps helped trigger, the collapse of the Toltec civilization.

Legends and traditions

Aztec culture is generally grouped with the cultural complex known as the nahuas, because of the common language they shared. According to legend, the various groups who were to become the Aztecs came from the north into the Anahuac valley around Lake Texcoco.

Popular Q&A
What was the ancient Mayans challenges?

drought or no rain for long time

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A codex is an old manuscript, in the form of a book, which replaced the scroll between the years 0-300 AD. They were written in Maya hieroglyphic script on Mesoamerican bark cloth.

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